According to Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, it looks like Medium – their latest venture that launched earlier this week and aims to combine traditional blogging services with user-curated collections to deliver a modern age publishing platform. Read more…
It’s no secret that the social media scene has exploded over the last year or so and the blogosphere is no different. It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry are blogging their thoughts to the world. But beyond personal blogging, companies often wonder if they should have a corporate blog as well. Many companies ask if it’s really that important to embark on such an initiative – I mean, who will read their blog and what value will it really add to their business?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Companies can greatly benefit from starting a blog and joining the conversation because, guess what?, that conversation is already out there and it’s going on without you! Whether it’s about your specific industry, line of products/solutions, or even just your general geographic area, you should be there showing these online communities what you have to offer. This kind of contribution helps establish your company and its executives as thought leaders in your area, but even more importantly, it shows that you’re listening to what’s being said beyond your own little corporate bubble.
As I’ve noted before in my posts The Key to Social Media: Balancing Observation with Participation and Using Social Media to Generate Leads, with social media, more so than anything else, you have to take into account what everyone else is saying in order to make the most of your contributions and get others to observe you and take account of what you’re saying.
It seems questions about whether or not blogging is advantageous have been floating around a lot recently and now there are some great statistics to prove my point. HubSpot recently found that active business blogs draw 6.9 times more organic search traffic than non-bloggers. It’s no secret that having a blog can increase your SEO, especially since the blogging culture itself encourages cross-linking between posts, but what’s the catch? That little word “active” is the key. If your company doesn’t have the time or resources to devote to blogging at least once a week, then perhaps it’s not your time. While blogging is fun and certainly beneficial, it’s also work.
Maybe you’ll want to find the missing time and resources though since it’s been found that blogging business experience 126 percent higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses. It’s also interesting to note that a 2008 research study by Cone found that 93 percent of social media users think companies should have a social media presence with 85 percent believing companies should also interact with its community via social media.
The benefits are clearly out there, so get your company to jump on the bandwagon and join the conversation!
Last week, I gave a presentation on blogging in an effort to inspire people to blog early and blog often! I began by explaining the importance of having a theme to the overall blog that can then be applied to each individual post. While I encouraged people to blog about anything their little hearts desired, I stressed the importance of relating it in some way back to the theme. Having a congruent theme throughout your blogs’ posts helps generate and sustain a following. If each post is completely random, no one will know what to expect when they sign on to view the latest posts, but if they know this blog focuses on X, and this one on Y, they’ll be more likely to keep coming back to see the latest updates on that topic. This kind of loyalty is more beneficial than an irregular stream of unique visitors since it helps establish your blog as a thought leader, providing expert opinion and commentary on a designated topic. Not sure what your blog’s theme is? That’s a problem… but start with the about page of your blog as a guideline (since that’s where your readers will likely look first too) and go from there!
To demonstrate what kind of posts do well on my company’s blog, I analyzed the top viewed entries and looked for themes already present. What I found was that posts relating to social media, PR, technologies, and current events or trends seemed to do exceptionally well – and even better when they all tied together! Another key element was when big names were used. “Big names” meaning large publications, well known companies, or influential executives used not only in the post, but the title of the post as well! These kinds of posts did particularly well if there was something relevant going on in the news about them at that time. For instance, Tiger Woods is a big name in his own right, but combined at the time of his scandal, his name gets that much bigger.
It’s also good to think about what people might be searching for in their browser’s search bar. One of my posts that continually gets unique visitors clearly demonstrates this as it is a direct question I’m guessing many people type right into their search bar: What is that # symbol on Twitter? This post is relevant as social media continues to be a big trending topic in the news and with more and more users signing up for Twitter each day, people are bound to wonder what the # hashtag symbol means.
While generating traffic and keeping in line with your blog’s theme are important, it’s also important to have fun! We rounded out the presentation with a game of Catch Phrase. This was inspired from my earlier post, Catch Phrase for Public Relations. If the buzzer ran out on your turn, you had to use the word that no one was able to guess to come up with a blog post topic – while still keeping in line with the blog’s theme! Challenging? Yes. Fun? You bet!
Many PR agencies run blogs for their clients, liaising with the client and capturing the client’s voice to try and avoid any transparency issues of course. And in a day when social media and online resources reign supreme, it’s entirely necessary. But what about a blog for your agency and broadcasting your own voice?
But, why have a blog? Isn’t the point to pitch your clients to other bloggers? Actually, having your own blog for your PR agency can prove to be very valuable, as many are already finding out. It’s important to show your agency is on the cutting edge of technology and media tactics. Clients are not going to hire you to run their blog or embark on a blog outreach program if you can’t even sustain one yourself. It’s kind of a ‘practice what you preach’ type thing to set a good example as to why your clients should have blogs and why blogging is important.
As for the subject matter, should it only be centered around public relations or can agencies use their own blog to promote their clients? As Tom Foremski notes in a recent blog post, many PR professionals have a stronger following and higher traffic on their sites than journalists – be it blogs, Twitter, or Facebook. So if you want your clients’ news to be more widely read, putting it up on your own blog might do the trick. However, there’s something to say for third party validity. Having a journalist write about your client is much more credible than writing about them yourself, since they’re paying you and all. This means that someone else found your client’s story newsworthy and worth sharing. And though PR people might have a stronger following, journalists have a much more targeted following, one that you are trying to reach. So maybe quality over quantity rules in this instance and your agency’s blog should stick to PR and not your clients’ products or services. Using clients as examples of your PR successes or strategies, however, can provide great fodder and real world scenarios that are beneficial to the PR industry as a whole.
Also, having your own blog finally gives you a space to do some PR for your agency. Many agencies can’t find the time to do PR for themselves as they are too busy submitting press releases, bylines, awards, and speaking proposals for their clients. Taking on PR for yourself is essentially like adding another client to your workload. But a blog is a great place to start to promote your own agency and showcase the talent, ideas, and forward thinking you have within your own walls. PR people are creative on a daily basis for their clients, but look!, finally an outlet to be creative on behalf of yourself and your agency; what fun!
Finally, a blog is a great outlet to expand your personal influence. An article in the New York Times (which I referenced in an older post) talks about PR pro, Brooke Hammerling’s influence and how she’s achieved such a high level of influence personally, that journalists are calling her for the story and all she has to do is mention a client for the story to get picked up. The rest of us can only dream… but starting a blog and expounding upon your own industry insights is a great place to start!
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